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THE ASSIENTO CONTRACT.
mon sense; and the infinite wealth of the Mississippi valley is believed in as a present fact by the noble brokers and bankers of France, during the first quarter of the eighteenth century. Active measures are at once set on foot by the company to increase the population of the province. They enter into obligation by their charter, to settle six thousand whites and three thousand African slaves, within its limits. The pernicious plan of sending out the prostitute and criminal is continued. Street-walkers and women from the hospitals of correction, bankrupts; felons whose sentence is commuted to transportation, are to become the agents in gaining fabulous stores of wealth. Others, however, of more reputable character are sent; and at length the schemes of emptying the filth of Paris into the great valley is given up. Law and his company controlled in Louisiana the exclusive traffic in human flesh, as England did throughout the rest of the New World. Britain not only supplied her colonies upon the Atlantic coast with slaves, but in pursuance of her plans of ambitious and gigantic monopoly, gained by the treaty of Utrecht the sole right to supply Spanish America with Africans. « Iler Britannic Majesty did offer and undertake,' quotes Bancroft from the treaty of Utrecht, “by persons whom we shall appoint, to bring into the West Indies of America, belonging to His Catholic
Majesty, in the space of thirty years, a hundred and forty-four thousand negroes at the rate of four thousand eight hundred in each of the said thirty years; paying on four thousand a duty of thirty-three and one-third dollars a head.' The assientists might introduce as many more as they pleased, at the rate of duty of sixteen and two-thirds dollars a head. Only no scandal was to be offered to the Roman Catholic religion ! Exactest care was taken to secure the monopoly. No Frenchman nor Spaniard, nor any other person, might introduce one negro slave into Spanish America. For the Spanish world in the Gulf of Mexico, on the Atlantic, and along the Pacific, as well as for the English colonies, her Britannic Majesty, by persons of her appointment, was the exclusive slave-trader. England extorted the privilege of filling the New World with negroes. As great profits were anticipated from the trade, Philip V. of Spain took one quarter of the common stock, agreeing to pay for it by a stock note; Queen Anne reserved to herself another quarter; and the remaining moiety was to be divided among her subjects. Thus did the sovereigns of England and Spain become the largest slave-merchants in the world."
By the side of this enormous speculation in flesh and blood, Law's was dwarf-like. Nevertheless, the profits derived from the sale of the negroes were one of the chief sources of revenue to the company's
GOLD UNSUCCESSFULLY SOUGHT.
coffers. The price of a stout negro man was a hundred and fifty dollars ; that of a healthy woman, a hundred and twenty-five dollars. It was subsequently raised about sixteen per cent. Nor was the perpetual bondage of the African the only style of slavery adopted. Twenty-five hundred Germans of the Palatinate were introduced into the province, who were called “Redemptioners.” They were bound to work as slaves for three years in the service of those who defrayed their expenses across the deep. Considerable numbers of soldiers, miners and assayers, in addition, were sent; the first to defend the colonists, and the others to discover and work the precious ores. Lead, iron, copper, without end, were found ; but after the most extensive and assiduous search, 'neither gold nor silver. Two or three years were devoted by the company's servants to this bootless quest; and then, at last, Bienville's long-urged policy of wringing riches from the soil was reluctantly adopted. Meanwhile, the enterprising governor had established a fort and laid the foundations of a town on the site of the present city of Natchez, giving to it the name of Fort Rosalie, in honor of the Countess Pontehartrain, wife of the French Minister of Marine, D'Iberville's friend and his patron in the colonization of Louisiana. The location had been selected by the brave admiral twelve years before; but the spot was too far distant from the sea to permit it to become the capital; and Bienville was still perplexed in his attempt to discover an advantageous site for his metropolis. During his persevering and diligent explorations for this object, he is one day busily examining the muddy boiling stream of the Mississippi, with boats and sounding lines, when suddenly first the white sails of a large ship, and then the unwelcome ensign of St. George present themselves to his vision, slowly moving up the narrow stream. It is a British corvette of twelve guns. Without a moment's hesitation, the bold and quick-witted Frenchman hails her; finds that Captain Barr is in command; that her consort is in waiting at the river's mouth; and that he is upon the errand of planting an English colony in those parts. Bienville immediately advises him that he is within the dominions of the King of France, that he must forth with get out of them; and that unless he does, he, Bienville will use the ample means within his command at the French fortifications a little way above, to make him. He volunteers likewise the valuable piece of geographical information, that Captain Barr is in the wrong river; for that the Mississippi is much further West. The thick-headed Englishman is at a stand, seemingly more fearful of Bienville's castle in the air, than confident in his directions; he grumbles, and asserts that the British had discovered the river half a century before, and that he will come back with force enough to substantiate the claim by seizure. He turns about,
FOUNDATION OF NEW ORLEANS.
however, for the present, and departs ; doubtless, leaving the cunning Gauls in great merriment; but does not come back, and the place of this effectual deceit is yet named the English Turn.
Descending the river in another of his many expeditions, Bienville noted a bend in the tortuous stream, which assumed the shape of a crescent. Examining the land upon its margin, he resolved that notwithstanding its unpropitious appearance, here should his town be built. Staking the spot, he returned to Mobile and dispatched thence fifty convicts for the purpose of clearing the ground of the forest undergrowth. The task was a Herculean one; the means at Bienville's command to carry it forward were small; and, moreover, the project was uncompromisingly opposed by his associates in the government. Nevertheless, his will was irresistible, and all obstacles at length yielded. By the year 1723, five years after the work had begun, a thriving and prosperous town appeared from out the tangled cane-brake, overshadowed by the funereal forest of the cypress swamp, and washed upon its southern edge by the yellow current of the great river. He named the place in honor of a prince who "forgot God, and trembled at a star” —the reckless regent, Duc d'Orléans. The experience of a century and a quarter has set its seal on the sagacity of its founder. The village, a site for which he struggled so hard and so long to find, to build which cost him so many manful